"There are no blog entries for the chosen month."
Sorry. No excuses. Humbled.
This month I'm going back to my favourite topic of conversation. Games. Not only am I going to be able to say to my son about what it was like, when the Berlin wall fell, Nelson Mandela was freed, the day Obama won the US election, I can also say what it was like at the very start of the LittleBig Revolution.
Co-Creation in gaming to date has been lived in the sweaty hands of the gaming elite -- until now. A quick look over the last 20 years has given us -- in no particular order -- the racing destruction kit on the c64 leading to Trackmania, various 'homebrew' coding scenes, the odd 'put yourself in the game', from Habitat to Second Life's 'if you work out how to build it they might come' and Animal Crossing's amiable villages, the hardcore 'mod' scene evolving via ever more accessible editors a-la Halo 3's Forge -- current pinnacle of the lo-fi 'mod' world, the notion of game as platform / os which has been seen in the fps world for some time but now with 'platform's' like Burnout Paradise stretching itself out a bit, and not least from Populous to Spore and more.
Until now nobody nailed it -- just the right balance between fun-to-play, easy-to-create and inherently sociable.
Welcome to Little Big Planet.
Edge gave it 10/10 - and you know what that means.
Anyway I started playing on the night of the election, trying to get as much time in before glueing myself to News24. After spending half an hour on the highly entertaining tutorial, more 'worlds' opened up and I was thrown into the user-generated-universe. I was just blown away by the complexity, creativity and often sheer malevolence of the new world of game creators.
Unlike most achievement systems -- where you are unlocking pre-set skins, avatars, and the like -- in LBP you collect other people's game assets, which you can then incorporate into your own library of creations. Genius -- unending and eminently gratifying. Got a camera? Stick yourself in your own level and give away your mug as a reward to decorate somebody else's room/puppet with. It's disturbing and strangely compelling.
I've only had a few hours on it so far but I can easily see LBP stealing my now valuable game time away from The Wrath of the Lich King, GoW2 and all the other Christmas treats on the horizon.
Whilst still a rumour there is talk of the game coming to the PSP, which gives the very logical and hugely exciting prospect of creating your own level -- or downloading someone else's -- and playing them on the way to work/school. What would be more sensible for Sony would be to open it up to other mobile platforms of course? But they have a tendency to get at least one thing massively wrong.
Sony aren't alone in embracing this new world of DIY --- Microsoft have their Rare ace in the hole: Banjo Kazooie Nut's & Bolts. It's very different in scope but I suspect it'll become the Wacky Races for this generation or at least this year. BKN&B is all about vehicles and with 1600 bits to choose from expect some wierd and wonderful creations to emerge as people get to grips with it.
Next year touch wood we will see the launch of Lego Universe -- if ever there was a brand that should 'get it right' it's them. To date however there hasn't been a great deal of info about how it's going to work.
As an observation all of these kinds of games, plus all the ones which have achieved 'platform' status are changing the face of the gaming industry. The lifespan of some of these games is potentially years with 'core' gamers buying fewer but playing longer and then on the other side the rise of casual 'throwaway' games on the myriad of hand-held devices. In the face of the global recession with available cash at a premium I reckon 2009 is going to be an interesting one -- the year that the gamers took over the game.
"I guess the revolution will be televised after all..."